Egypt, EBRD, UNWTO sign COVID-19 recovery package to support tourism sector

Doaa A.Moneim , Wednesday 13 Jan 2021

The package comes for the sake of building the resilience of tourism enterprises amid the COVID-19 pandemic

EBRD package agreement
Egyptian ministers of tourism and international cooperation attend the virtual meeting

Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the UN’s World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) have inked a COVID-19 tourism recovery technical assistance cooperation package to promote resilience, sustainability, and inclusive growth.

The package was signed on Wednesday through a virtual event attended by Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, the EBRD’s Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean, Heike Harmgart, and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Enany.

The amount of the package is yet to be disclosed.

In June 2020, the EBRD and UNWTO agreed to take immediate action to facilitate the recovery of tourism in 12 countries, including Egypt.

The action came for the sake of building the resilience of tourism enterprises amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since the private sector represents 98 percent of the tourism sector in Egypt, said Al-Mashat.

She added that incentivising job creation is a key cornerstone of the cooperation package, which seeks to identify support mechanisms for tourism enterprises, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises, in order to support the local economy and strengthen local linkages.

It also aims to formulate specific recommendations to foster job creation, target the self-employed and protect the most vulnerable groups.

It also aims to improve Egypt’s tourism safety, health, and hygiene regulations to align with international practices, providing tailor-made training programmes that are applicable to the local context for managers in the tourism industry as well as newly hired fresh graduates.

Egypt launched the Egypt-Tourism Reform Program (E-TRP) in November 2018, a structural reform program designed to achieve a sustainable tourism sector through implementing reforms that strengthen the sector’s competitiveness, consistent with international standards.

The pillars of reform included institutional, legislative, branding and promotion, infrastructure, and tourism development as well as international tourism trends.

In March 2019, the UNWTO awarded Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for his commitment towards tourism through launching the E-TRP and his contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The new agreement with EBRD-UNWTO is an example of deepening collaborations to advance sectoral support and accelerate progress to meet Egypt’s priorities going forward. Through providing impact analysis and data collection tools, it will allow private enterprises to make informed decisions on the basis of number-driven data and make predictions to avoid future shocks,” Al-Mashat said.

“This in turn will foster the entrepreneurship spirit in the sector and lead to a better inclusion of women and youth in the workforce. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to not just ensure an immediate recovery, but to build back better for a more sustainable tourism industry,” she expounded.

Meanwhile, Minister El-Enany said that the package comes at a crucial timing, as it supports the ministry and its affiliated entities, as well as the private tourism sector, to embark on the ongoing transformation, especially in capacity building, and supporting the ministry's efforts to ensure the recovery of the tourism industry.

In December 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation, together with the EBRD, agreed on a financing agreement for the regeneration of a brownfield site in West Cairo, which serves the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and Great Giza Pyramids, into a Hyatt Regency Hotel, promoting the introduction of green technology, and youth and women inclusion in Egypt.

It is expected that more than 300 jobs will be directly generated, and viable progression routes from training into employment will be created for at least 250 young people.

The project will also include a high-quality training programme, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and work-based learning opportunities in hospitality and tourism for young people, promoting in particular women’s participation.

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of the Bank’s operations in 2012, the EBRD has invested over €7 billion in more than 125 projects across the country.

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